Google Instant: An SEO Renaissence?
I’ve been meaning to write about this for a while, as people know that social media ‘soft sellers’ like me have been growing ever more fearless of Google’s grip on search, and dare I say it, the psychology of search.
But here’s the kicker. All technological advancements are unpredictable when a genuine paradigm shift occurs. Enter Google instant; the new-born from Schmidt and Co that hopes to distract from the micro hum that is Buzz and the ripple in the ocean that was Wave.
Here’s the premise, in steps.
1) The user types in ‘Carrier Bags’. But what they are really ‘typing’ is a sequence of real time characters, ‘C-A-R-R-I-E-R–B-A-G-S’
2) With each key stroke, Google predicts what you are going to type (currently available as a list of ‘where are you going with this’ suggestions in their search and on many browsers).
3) Instantly, ads are thrown at you at each key stroke. Before you get to the end of your search term, and maybe based on your other browsing habits, and ad is served for ‘Carrier Bag Shop’.
4) If the user is distracted by the ad en-route to completing the search for 3 seconds, Google bills an impression.
The question that we, as marketers need to answer, is will this instantly change the way search users behave? The answer remains, of course, to be seen in time, but ultimately comes down to the level of horizontal decision making the user demonstrates whilst searching. Is the user prepared to make a search decision, whilst physically doing the search? Are instant results the first example of ‘over optimisation’? Will Google give users the option to switch this off…? And if so will they lose critical (and commercial) mass like Buzz/Wave, thus not allowing the shift away from Bing et al?
Lest we forget social media…
Facebook already has a deal with Bing for it’s out of wall garden results within the FB environment. But what if Google Instant also shows you ads that your Facebook / Gmail buddies thought were relevant? Or the search was done by someone at your office days before, and deemed relevant/useless already, thus swaying you towards/away?
To me this comes down to steering search. Imagine your sat nav says, take the next right. After that, there are three lefts, would you like to commit to those three lefts now? In reality will you get there any more efficiently? Remember, enhanced search does not lead to enhanced discovery. But if the enhancement does occur, Google will be ahead of a curve that they themselves have drawn. Rest assured they will draw it steep and watch their competitors try to climb it.